Tag Archives: executive orders

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Five Ninth Circuit Judges

“We are all acutely aware of the enormous controversy and chaos that attended the issuance of the Executive Order. People contested the extent of the national security interests at stake, and they debated the value that the Executive Order added to our security against the real suffering of potential emigres. As tempting as it is to use the judicial power to balance those competing interests as we see fit, we cannot let our personal inclinations get ahead of important, overarching principles about who gets to make decisions in our democracy.

For better or worse, every four years we hold a contested presidential election. We have all found ourselves disappointed with the election results in one election cycle or another. But it is the best of American traditions that we also understand and respect the consequences of our elections. Even when we disagree with the judgment of the political branches — and perhaps especially when we disagree — we have to trust that the wisdom of the nation as a whole will prevail in the end.”

—-Five judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals  (Judges Jay Bybee,  joined by Judges Alex Kozinski, Consuelo María Callahan, Carlos Bea, and Sandra Segal Ikuta, attacked what Bybee called the “fundamental errors” in the February decision of a three-judge panel upholding the temporary restraining order that blocked President Donald Trump’s first executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The opinion denounced the panel’s ruling as a “clear misstatement of law,” and stated that the five, constituting a larger number of judges than the three judge panel whose contrary holding was described as a “unanimous” 9th Circuit decision, had an”obligation to correct” it for the record.

“We are judges, not Platonic Guardians. It is our duty to say what the law is, and the meta-source of our law, the U.S. Constitution, commits the power to make foreign policy, including the decisions to permit or forbid entry into the United States, to the President and Congress,” the five judges stated.

Currently, the President’s revised order is held up by an even more widely criticized temporary restraining order issued by  U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson. As well as following many of the same lines of activist judicial reasoning the five judges criticized in their dissent, Judge Watson’s opinion heavily relies  on the campaign rhetoric of President Trump and statements by  chief aide Stephen Miller in TV interviews. This means, as several critical legal experts including Alan Dershowitz  have pointed out, that the exact same order, if issued by Barack Obama, would not have been blocked, and would have been found Constitutional.

Now that’s a double standard!

In criticizing their colleagues, the five judges said that the panel “brushed aside” the clearly controlling case law of Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972) and ignored entirely the rulings in Kerry v. Din, 135 S. Ct. 2128 (2015) and Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787 (1977).  The Supreme Court in Mandel recognized that First Amendment rights were implicated by an executive action but decided…

“when the executive has exercised its authority to exclude aliens on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will neither look behind the exercise of that discretion, nor test it by balancing its justification against the First Amendment 11 interests of those who seek personal communication with the applicant.”

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TV Critic Neil Genzlinger’s Absurd Quote, Samantha Bee, And The 9th Circuit’s Travel Halt Decision]

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First, a quote…

“There is a lot of bravado in this series about how comics are society’s truth-tellers. As Keegan-Michael Key puts it: “The comic has become the person who pulls back the curtain to show the world that: ‘Do you see that this is happening? We didn’t make this up.’”Of course, we’ve just been through a period in which comedians of all sorts joked about one possible outcome of the American presidential election as if it could never actually come to be, and it came to be anyway. Now, the comics holding that curtain may be realizing that, sometimes, the world isn’t listening or doesn’t care.”

—New York Times TV reviewer Neil Genzlinger, in his conclusion to the review of CNN’s documentary on the history of television comedy.

Ugh.

The reason, Neil, that the world “isn’t listening or doesn’t care” is that with very, very rare exceptions, the political pronouncements of comedians are simple-minded, ignorant, juvenile or worse. Unfortunately, comics are increasingly laboring under the delusion that their junior college degrees, narrow life experiences and success at making drunks cackle imbues them with some genuine authority to pass judgments on complex policy issues. This is manifestly untrue. The clowns are on TV because they are, or were, allegedly funny, not because they have anything more sophisticated to offer regarding foreign policy or tax reform than the average guy on a barstool.

I have now seen an ad for Samantha Bee’s comedy show “Full Frontal” approximately a million times, or so it seems. If she is really this  ignorant, her show should be banned by the NEA. All of her featured riff is about how horrible the President is—well, at least that’s original—and it ends with her statement, complete with “any idiot should know this” facial mugging, that “lawyers call” Trump’s temporary immigration halt from seven nations “unconstitutional.”  Continue reading

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About the “So-Called” Judge’s TRO

robart

Ethics Alarms had a revealing comment on the post about the grandstanding and unethical ex-acting-Attorney General’s  breach of her duty to represent her client regarding the President’s Middle East immigration Executive Order. Following Judge Robart’s temporary restraining order (or TRO), the reader said, in essence, ‘See? She was right! The order was illegal, just like she said it was!’ The comment was idiotic on its face on many levels, yet it was also a fair summation of how partisan citizens have viewed the controversy. The various TROs validate the criticism of the Executive Order in their minds. They don’t, however. Judge Robart’s order particularly doesn’t. In fact, it is infuriatingly vague.

Now, a TRO doesn’t necessarily have to explain in detail what is wrong with a law, regulation or order. The purpose of this judicial act is to stall a measure that has the potential of causing a lot of disruption, unhappiness or expense from going into effect until there can be a decisive determination that it is legal, constitutional and within the power of the government entity that issued it. A judge issuing a TRO must conclude that the objection to the act is substantive, that the party applying for the TRO has a substantial chance of prevailing on the merits, and that the party has standing to object. The judge does not have to conclude that the party asking for the order is right, just that the party may be right.

However, reading Judge Judge Robart’s order, one can glean no clue as to why the TRO was justifiable, and why it is so sweeping. Although the judge writes in his conclusion that…

The work of the court is not to create policy or judge the Wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches. That is the work of the legislative and executive branches and of the citizens of this country who ultimately exercise democratic control over those branches. The work of the Judiciary, and this court, is limited to ensuring that the actions taken by the other two branches comport with our country’s laws, and more importantly, our Constitution. …

[T]he court is mindful of the considerable impact its order may have on the parties before it, the executive branch of our government, and the country’s citizens and residents. The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government.

…the order never states what is illegal or unconstitutional in his view.  This omission has led many analysts to conclude that there isn’t anything. He just doesn’t like the order. Much has been made of the fact that Robart was a Bush appointee, so the order isn’t “partisan.” Of course, the same people making this argument, in other settings, would maintain that a Bush appointment is just a bad judge. Many, many, many Republicans  and conservatives detest the President, and especially, one should remember, the Bush family. It is far from unlikely that bias against the President caused Judge Robart to employ poor judgment. Democrats cite the fact that Rorart is a conservative as part of a wonderfully convenient construct: if a conservative judge opposes them, the fact that he’s a conservative means he’s wrong, and if a conservative judge agrees with them, the fact that he’s a conservative means he’s right.
Some of the exchanges in the hearing that led to his order directly contradict his written statement that he is not questioning the wisdom of the order rather than challenging its legality.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

sanctuary-cities

“To anyone who feels threatened today, or vulnerable, you are safe in Boston. We will do everything lawful in our powerful to protect you. If necessary, we will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who’s targeted unjustly.”

—–Boston’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, announcing defiance to the President Trump’s Executive Order cutting off federal funding to municipalities that did not cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Is Mayor Walsh under the impression that America’s laws protecting its borders and extending its sovereignty over the crucial area of immigration control are the equivalent of the Fugitive Slave Act? It would seem so.

The grandstanding statement by Walsh is the most extreme yet from the 100% wrong and unethical mayors of so-called sanctuary cities, which include major metropolises like Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and smaller cities, many of them college towns, like New Haven; Syracuse; and Austin. There are over 300 in all.

The legal issue is interesting and not at all settled. A 2012 Supreme Court decision held that Congress is not permitted to set conditions on spending to coerce states or localities to participate in federal programs against their will, but other decisions are no so clear. Moreover, when a city actively interferes with the enforcement of the law—not merely not participating in the program, but actively interfering with it the in way the Walsh describes—the federal government should have some effective way of responding. I see another SCOTUS case coming, don’t you? What if Boston decided that it would provide sanctuary for drug dealers, kidnappers, spies and terrorists? Could it do that, too?

Some of the other mayors have been only slightly more moderate. San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee, issued a joint statement with the mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, and Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose:

“We will not give in to threats, or political grandstanding. Together, the Bay Area will stay true to our values of inclusiveness, compassion and equality, and united against any and all efforts to divide our residents, our cities, and our country.”

Look! Political grandstanding about political grandstanding! Imagine: the President of the United States wants to enforce immigration laws! How dare he? In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed, while ducking bullets presumably,

 “I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us. Whether you’re from Poland or Pakistan, whether you’re from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you’re from Mexico or Moldova, where my grandfather came from, you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream.”

Having illegal aliens who have committed crimes flee to Chicago might work out, since the murder rate there should thin their ranks considerably. Continue reading

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Virginia’s Governor Restores The Vote To Felons

"First thing on my mind, now that I'm finally out of Shawshank, is to register to vote. Then I figure I'll look up Andy..."

“First thing on my mind, now that I’m finally out of Shawshank, is to register to vote. Then I figure I’ll look up Andy…”

Virginia’s Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order yesterday  that restored the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons. The order applies to all violent and nonviolent felons who served their sentence. Virginia is one of a minority of states, only ten, that do not automatically restore rights upon completion of a felony sentence and one of only four  that require an application by each individual felon and action by the governor. Because this is an executive order, McAuliffe will have to reissue it every month.

McAuliffe, who is the political equivilent of Prof. Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” issued the predictable triumphal blather, saying from the Virginia Capitol steps after being introduced by a gospel choir,

“We benefit from a more just and accountable government when we put trust in all of our citizens to choose their leaders.It has taken Virginia many centuries, unfortunately, to learn this lesson. But today, we celebrate its truth.”

We get a more just and accountable government when we put trust in those who have proven themselves untrustworthy, eh?

That’s one of McAuliffe’s talents: he can make a measure that isn’t necessarily unethical at all seem like it.

Is it unethical to tell felons that they are banned from voting and running for office for life? It’s a policy choice, that’s all. A state can make lifetime disenfranchisement part of the official price for serious lawbreaking on the theory that felons have shown themselves to be  insufficiently respectful of the laws and society in general, and lowered themselves into the ranks of permanent second class citizens by their own choices and conduct. I won’t say that’s not fair: it depends what one thinks fair is. It’s tough. It signals a high regard for the rights to participate in self-government. Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “Observations On Obama’s Executive Orders On Guns And The Golden Dancer Presidency”

Are smart guns...smart?

Are smart guns…smart?

 J. E. Houghton illuminates one of President Obama’s wish list items for gun safety—fascinating. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Observations On Obama’s Executive Orders On Guns And The Golden Dancer Presidency” :

I would like to offer an observation concerning one of President Obama’s executive order policies: To direct federal agencies to promote “smart gun” technology through the procurement power of the Federal government. The President compares guns to smart phones and asks why we can’t use the same modern technology to limit access and use of guns like we do with smart phones. (Vice President Biden’s post-Sandy Hook commission came up with a similar recommendation.)

This may sound like a good idea to some, mostly people who have no knowledge of guns and do not depend on guns for their own personal safety, national defense or homeland security.

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Observations On Obama’s Executive Orders On Guns And The Golden Dancer Presidency

Rocking Horse

Before I begin, here are the orders, which almost none of the news media are explaining or in most cases, even mentioning. The list is from Forbes:

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to developinnovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Observations:

1. I want to get this out of the way first, because it annoys me even more than other things connected with the announcement and its coverage. Jeb Bush was ready for the Obama orders with a signed op-ed titled, “Barack Obama’s executive orders trample on the Second Amendment.” Trample? They barely nick it. Maybe the orders infringe on the Amendment’s personal space. Bush wrote (or, more likely, had someone write for him) the essay before Obama’s measures were known. It’s obvious: Bush never mentions any of them. This is exactly the sort of idiocy from gun rights supporters that Obama, Democrats and anti-gun zealots are counting on, so they can say—with justification!—“See? Republicans don’t want to do anything to make us safer! They oppose measures before they even know what they are! How can anyone expect the President to work with these people?”

Jeb is an embarrassment, especially to himself. He should do everyone a favor and get out of the race.

2. Nicely timed to the orders is an excellent article in Reason called  “You Know Less Than You Think About Guns: The misleading uses, flagrant abuses, and shoddy statistics of social science about gun violence.” It would be nice, even responsible, if those clapping their hands like trained seals to Obama’s cynical grandstanding here actually read it.  A brief highlight: Continue reading

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